About us

Rionholdt BoatsA Radical New Approach

Well-designed and professionally hand-crafted from full-length 1” sheets of cellular PVC (poly vinyl chloride).  We can build boats with beautiful shape yet without ANY wood!

Click to read more about why you should want a boat constructed using the Rionholdt Method!

How & Who

Patented process carefully thought out by a shipwright steeped in the traditions of Chesapeake Bay boatbuilding during 25 years of fighting the problems inherent with wood and the inevitable repairs (AND maintenance) that come with wooden boats.


Looks like a wood boat.  Acts like a wood boat.  Feels like a wood boat.  Has that great ride of a wood boat, but won’t rot!  Should last indefinitely.  Won’t absorb water – doesn’t have shrink/swell problems that wood boats do.  Holds paint (though only needed for cosmetic purposes).  Cut it in half, both pieces will float.

Additional Features

Fast and stable (one example:  30 mph with 40HP two-stroke outboard).  Never water-logged.  Indifferent to moisture.  Impervious to worms.  Even self-extinguishing.  Easy to clean and obstruction-free (no ribs).  Self-bailing.  Leave it on the beach, in your yard, on a lift or trailer, or in the water.  Simply LOW maintenance – truly “wash ‘n wear”!


For over 25 years, Eric has expressed his shipwright talents upon a myriad of schooners, brigantines, skipjacks, skiffs, yachts and workboats.  New work has ranged from complete hull construction, masts, spars, decks and rigging to marine repairs that have encompassed just about anything made out of any type of wood.

In recent times Eric might have best been termed an Outboard Jointer, though his experience has extended to timber frame construction, building custom decks, towing and salvage, as well as rigger/welding. For a number of years he owned, used and worked on restoring a Chesapeake Bay buyboat built in 1914. He also converted one of the last Potomac River Dories back to sail.
Some of the classics that Eric has worked on as a shipwright, many of them lengthy projects, are the Susan Constant, the Isla de Ibiza, the J.L. Quigg, the Virginia, the Georgeanna, and his most recent projects being the Peggy of New Point (the pride and flagship of Mathews County, VA) and the Elizabeth II (based out of Manteo, NC).



Ann is a muse, an artist-musician at heart, so composition and harmony have long been integral to who she is.  The beauty these Once and Future Boats offer – alongside the passion Eric is quietly burning with – powerfully stir the art and music within her soul, for they evoke the kind of glory people the world over hunger and long for.

As a wind at Eric’s back, Ann helps unlock the poetry within our midst:  there is gold lying in the depths!  With these boats, “we are trading value at a discount” – the Life with which they are bursting simply “hum and sing us further into The Dance.  We aren’t building boats people merely like but rather boats that people love!”

Together with her husband and these time-proven vessels of splendor, Ann is able to write much in the way of symphony and many a dream into being … and all while abiding in and adding to … The Story!

Some of Our Own Story…

Eric and Ann live on the water, in the Tidewater area of coastal Virginia.  This IS our story, and, as it turns out, the story of man.  There is but one waterfront, and we’re mostly a world of voyageurs; it’s what we have in common.

So where DO we launch out in an effort to get a whole lot across in a mere measure of words?

“I’ve always been crazy about boats, “Eric admits, “’cause of my Dad, who took me out and introduced me to the planet as a boy.  We did a lot of canoeing, and sailing and hunting.”

As a youth, Eric would go long out of his way by bicycle to look at boats across town because of some word of mouth or ad.  He went to college, but the closest he could “get to the planet” was dusty rocks in boxes in a geology lab or some landfill on the edge of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk (Virginia).

“After college, I went to the beach; that was better.  But I wanted a boat.  I’d been riding a bicycle for seven years and wanted to get off the road before it was too late.  Just when the time was right, my partner and I found a brand new cedar Chapelle Sharpie built by a shipwright.  Paid for most of it, gave away everything that wouldn’t fit on board and then sailed south in the dead of winter.”

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It was THAT boat that introduced Eric to the glories of working craft.  As a result, for the next twenty years he devoted himself to the trade – heart, soul, mind and body – repairing, building and studying.

He studied extensively, but his primary interest was working sail.  Most of what he worked on were Chesapeake Bay built boats, primarily the Deadrise style – owned and operated by working watermen.

Eric had found a home and community on the working waterfront of the Lower Chesapeake.  “There I was welcomed, taken in, ‘reared up’ as a working man/boat carpenter/shipwright – by a host of individuals, premier among them several older gentlemen steeped in the ways of men, boats, wood and water, whom I’m privileged and proud to call fathers … most of whom are gone now in body, but who live on in The Story that they wrote with their hands and lives.

“They live on in the hearts of those who knew them and were able to come alongside them IN The Story.  It is to THIS Story that I have become passionately devoted.”

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After twenty years of pursuing this passion, it became painfully evident to Eric that what was once one of the largest wooden workboat fleets in the country was disappearing.  The fleet was dying off and so was the work and the way of life.

Unwilling to abandon his place in untold millennia of momentum, Eric asked himself if there wasn’t some way possible to redeem these worthy and proven boats in such a way that would make them more than appropriate to the times we live in … if there wasn’t a way to combine modern materials with the traditional style, overcoming all the deficiencies of the historic methods and construction, thereby making it possible for a modern man to ENJOY a Good Boat.  He has often lightheartedly remarked, “I am so traditional that I am ahead of my time!

But it’s not enough to tell a story.  We want to present to people the means to take their own place in the story and write it themselves.  It’s that Good a Story! 

So welcome to the “Deadrise Renaissance” and the world of Rionholdt, a place where boats bring Life, Passion, Strength and Beauty … and provide access to a world where a man can meet the planet … and thereby himself … and come away with a realization of self – difficult, if not often impossible, to obtain elsewhere.

The fruit of this endeavor is a boat faithful to its original, traditional design – a boat that’s in a class all its own and satisfies the soul.  A boat that has all the advantages of the tradition and none of the drawbacks of method and material.


EricAnnie-001We are building boats out of cellular PVC and modern adhesives that we fully expect to last indefinitely and with a minimum amount of care – the rate of destruction truly is negligible.  We are building boats that are a joy to feast the eyes upon, use and own, without being an ongoing burden to one’s resources.


Some years back we raised a question and brought forth an answer:  You can HAVE the boat you see when you look at a wood boat without having a wood boat!  A boat that is faithful to what the wooden boat was, bringing it forward into our place and time.  With the Rionholdt Method, you don’t have to compromise your pleasure and satisfaction in order to maximize your opportunities for boating!


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